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September 17, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-17

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Kubrick on Campus
Come see Stanley near the beginning
of his career with "The Killing," play-
ing tonight at the Michigan Theater
at 7 p.m. $6.25 for students.
michigandaily.com /arts

ia*UIbekidigunau?,
RTS

MONDAY
SEPTEMBER 17, 2001

5A

Keanu, 'Hardball'
smashes into wall

By Andy TaylorFabe
Daily Film Editor
One has to wonder how "Hard-
ball" was pitched to executives:
"It'll be like 'The Bad News Bears'
meets 'Dangerous Minds!' Oh, and
Keanu Reeves will star." Sadly, this
is the best way to describe this terri-

Hardball
Grade: D
At Showcase
and Quality 16
.t

ble and downright
embarrassing
film.
Inspired by a
true story, "Hard-
ball" follows the
misadventures of
Connor O'Neil
(Keanu Reeves), a
compulsive gam-
bler who finds
himself in serious
debt to some

equally serious neck-less bookies.
In an attempt to save his
kneecaps, he goes to a rich, busi-
nessman friend (Mike McGlone
"The Brothers McMullen") for
money. However, instead of bailing
him out all at once, his friend offers
him a deal: Connor will be paid
$500 for every week that he coaches
a little league team in the projects
of Cabrini-Green. Connor is then
forced to balance coaching II1
rowdy, disobedient kids with dodg-
ing his increasingly ill-tempered
bookies. So, of course, Connor
eventually bonds with the kids,
teaches them something about
teamwork and (drum roll) learns
something about life from the kids.
Reeves, who is apparently still in
sports movie Purgatory, gives a per-
formance that goes beyond lacklus-
ter. Most of the time it looks like he
just doesn't care. Even the few
promising lines of dialogue that he
has fall flat as he drones through
The nhoto

them.
Reeves manages to pull a couple
rabbits out his hat as he makes a
couple lines actually work, but
these are few and far between, and
when they occur, they serve only as
relief from the otherwise wince-
worthy dialogue. It makes you long
for the days of "Parenthood," "Bill
and Ted's Excellent Adventure" or,
hell, even "Point Break." The
majority of his acting in this film
consists of furrowing his brow and
holding his head in his hands, and
his rapport with the kids feels very
manufactured. And when he sings
"Big Poppa" while celebrating and
waving his hands in the air, the
shudders were tangible.
The kids on the inner-city team are
cliched, but some of them are actually
pretty believable, which makes the
flaws of Reeves' performance even
more clear. It actually becomes hard to
dislike the movie since the kids are so
likable, but trust me, you'll manage to.
The dialogue relies on a few gimmicks
to carry it, and whenever it loses
momentum, the film just falls back on
the comic value of a nine-year-old
calling his coach "bitch."
For being a movie about baseball
and gambling, there is surprisingly
little of either. Between the sappy
filler scenes with Reeves and the
kids and an utterly asinine love
story between Connor and school-
teacher Elizabeth (Diane Lane), it's
very easy to forget what the movie
is actually about.
One thing that makes the movie
so bad is the editing. Incredibly
choppy editing and bad use of fade-
outs makes the film confusing to
the point where you wonder if they
put the reels in the wrong order.
"Hardball" is inspired by a non-
fiction book of the same name by
iraiDhv of

Couesy Pr "' out
"I wish I leamed how to act."
Daniel Coyle, but it is not clear
what plot aspects are real and which
are created for dramatic value.
When a surprise death near the end
of the film spins the film into a sen-
timental crap-fest, you can actually
feel the writers tugging on your
heartstrings with -all of their might.
Despite all of the previews that
made the film look like another
entry in the "Bad News Bears,"-
"Mighty Ducks" - "Ladybugs"
genre, the film takes a serious fork
from its predecessors.
The portrayal of the violence and
the insecurity of the neighborhood
and the fairly dark subject matter
(both in Connor's life and in the
projects) definitely makes the film
gritty and more realistic, but it's not
enough to pull the movie out of its
nosedive. Any movie that makes
you long for the days of Johhny
Utah should set off alarms. That
must have been one hell of a pitch
meeting at Paramount.
ErnTestine

Fine cast can
not repair the
broken 'Glass'
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
A fine cast has been assembled for Daniel Sack-
heim's "The Glass House," and attractive photography
makes the film a pleasant experience for the eyes, but
this movie forgot one thing, and that
is a smart script that actually respects
the intelligence of the audience. A
thriller is usually enjoyable and suc-
The Glass cessful only if there is a certain level
House of suspense and fear present. Howev-
er, "The Glass House" is about as pre-
Grade: D dictable as the alphabet and does not
At Showcase contain one genuine moment of fright.
and Quality 16 The film opens with Ruby Baker
(Leelee Sobieski) and three of her
friends watching a horror film at the
local cineplex. During this scene, you
should carefully sit back and observe
their reactions. This is how the film-
makers want you to respond to this
film, but you are more likely to react by yawning and
checking your watch every five minutes. If you have
seen any previews for this film, then you will know
what happens next (along with almost everything else
that occurs in the film).
Ruby's parents die in a car accident coming back
from celebrating their wedding anniversary. Ruby, 16,
and her I 1-year-old brother, Rhett (Trevor Morgan)
need new guardians and in their will, the Baker's chose
former neighbors Terry (Stellan Skarsgard) and Erin
Glass (Diane Lane) to look after their children. Losing
her parents and making the move from the Valley to
Malibu is very tough on Ruby. Even seeing her new
house does not elicit joyful emotions in her.
The new living quarters is a beautiful, luxurious
home overlooking the ocean. The house is also mainly
comprised of, you have probably already guessed this,
glass. Rhett decrees the new home "sweet" and
becomes even more overjoyed at the two new video sys-
tems the Glass' have bought him. Ruby laments that
their dad would not have allowed these systems and
correctly dismisses her new wardrobe as the Glass' try-
ing to buy the children's happiness.
At this point the film can go down an entirely differ-
ent road and explore the emotional hardships these
changes have created in Ruby, while also dealing with
Terry's attempt to be a father figure to Ruby. With
actors of this credibility, that seems the best route to go.
But "The Glass House" leads us on a path that is lit-

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
tered with broken glass, and sadly, we have lost our
shoes.
Ruby gradually realizes that the Glass' are not the
perfect neighbors they used to be. Does Terry stare at
the bikini wearing Ruby for a little too long? Does
Erin's occupation as a doctor necessitate her shooting
up mysterious drugs every chance she gets? And final-
ly, why were the Baker's not driving their car the night
they died while their old car is safely parked at Terry's
office?
Of course, the Glass' have explanations for every-
thing but their explanations are as believable as the dia-
logue in this script.
Screenwriters have to realize that by having all
teenagers call their parents "rents" and by having them
use the word "whatever," they are not achieving real
dialogue, only the reality that "Clueless" created six
years ago.
It is amazing and sad that such a fine cast was assem-
bled for this trashy,-TV movie deserving thriller. Leelee
Sobieski proved in "Joan of Arc" that she is one of the
finest young actresses today, but elevating this material
is too much an obstacle to place on her shoulders.
Stellan Skarsgard is also one of the most interesting
actors around. It is great to see him in another high pro-
file role that he deserves so much, but material this bad
hints that he should stick to the more independent films
in which he excels like "Timecode" and "Breaking the
Waves." Diane Lane and Bruce Dern are two other
excellent actors who will sadly have to list this film and
their performances in it on their resumes.
"The Glass House" also fails to be as atmospheric
and creepy as it needs to be. While "Alien" and "The
Shining" turned their surroundings into a living, breath-
ing character that could educe as much viewer response
as the occupants themselves, this glass house remains
more in the backdrop of the story than as an active part.
The house may amplify all sounds and provide many
views of character's reflections but the viewer never
really feels like this glass house is going to shatter any
time soon.

Ruben on display at 'Umuseum
By Elizabeth Manasse
Daily Arcs Writer N N

"In Human Touch," an exhibition currently on display
in the West Gallery at the University Museum of Art,
uniquely celebrates and advances the history of the
photographic image. While resisting the traditional lim-
itations of the medium of photography, American artist

Ernestine Ruben
In Human
Touch: by
Ernestine
Ruben
Museum of Art
Through September 23

takes a unique approach to the human
form, to the body in motion, and to
landscape, both natural and man-
made.
The majority of works in the
exhibit are representations of the
human body, both male and female,
including many nudes. Unlike most
representations of the body in
works of art, however, Ruben
focuses on untraditional parts of
the human form. She often turns
her lens to areas of the body not
usually considered worthy of repre-
sentation, such as an armpit, body
hair or wrinkling skin. She is fasci-
nated by imperfections and flaws;

what is not considered "beautiful" in the history of art.
Many of Ruben's images are extreme close-ups of the
human body: The roundness of a shoulder, an Adam's
apple or a knee. She abstracts details of the body, crop-
ping closely to create geometric forms and striking
absences. Walking through the exhibit is like playing a
guessing game: You're not quite sure what part of the
body you are looking at.
The ambiguity of forms also leaves you wondering
whether the body fragment belongs to a man or to a
woman, and whether you're looking at black skin, white
skin or just a shadow.
Ruben's images empower the viewer and truly invite
participation in the act of seeing. Her focus on the part
more often than the whole is her method of better
understanding and exploring the human body. In fact,
she has a tendency to entwine herself with the bodies of
her models while photographing them, adopting
extreme camera angles.
It's fascinating to see how much meaning can be con-
densed into a small fragment of the body. "I chose the
human body for subject matter because I had always
worked with it. It can defy the camera - it can
breathe, it can move, it can change," said Ruben.
Working in a variety of photographic media, ranging
from the silver prints of her early career to her current
exploration of gum bichromate printed on handmade
papers, Ruben has deeply explored issues of focus,
structure, and dimensionality. Ruben captures many of
her most striking effects through a manipulation of her
media. The gum bichromate process allows Ruben to
manipulate such effects as tonal contrast and color satu-
ration during the printing process itself, enabling her to
T nnl'c n nw r

Courtesy of UMMA
You know what they say about guys with big thumbs ...
achieve otherworldly effects.
Ruben often employs processes, techniques, and
materials that are not part of - or at least had fallen
out of-- the scope of modern photography. She manip-
ulates her subjects in such a way that does not allow us
to believe in the image as an unaltered record of reality.
Essentially, Ruben reminds us that two-dimensional
images do not have to be strictly representational.
Ruben, a distinguished alum, grew up in Birming-
ham, in a home surrounded by works of art and music.
Although Ruben pursued sculpture throughout her life,
she did not begin taking fine art photos until the age of
47. Just a few years after her initial studies, her work
was discovered by Jean-Luc Monterosso, director of the
Maison Europ6en de la Photographic, and was exhibit-
ed under his auspices. Her work has since been widely
shown and collected.
In Human Touch is a retrospective selection of
Ruben's work completed since the late 1970s, when
Ruben first turned to fine art photography. The exhibi-
tion includes both traditional framed photos as well as
instillation pieces.
The instillation pieces are mixed media works docu-
menting the Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the ancient
ruins of Petra in Jordan.
So, if armpits, wrinkling skin and a little body hair
doesn't scare you, visit the UMMA, a get a truly unique
perspective of the human body.

spreads
the
word

If YOU are a Jewish young adult between
the ages of 18 & 26 and have never been
to Israel on a peer group trip, register
between August 15 & October 5, 2001,
for a free winter break trip at:
-i i t. L' M& -i ...lift... : ... ..e U mv

a Faiy uAffair'

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